character selection persuasion

Keep your beneficiaries close in your story

Watch, then we klatch.

Spoilers ahead…so this is a commercial for sweaters and now YOU WANT ONE FOR THE HOLIDAYS, RIIIIIGHTTTT?

This is an ad. Consumers are usually the beneficiaries in ads. Not so in this case and how refreshing is that? Here, the goat herders are the beneficiaries and the sweater-buyers are secondary. Think about this arrangement for your stories.

Closer is better.
Instead of talking about your ultimate beneficiary, who may be a few relationships away from you, pick a beneficiary who has a direct relationship to you. For example, if you are a funder, write about the staff at the agency you fund, not the kids your grantee serves. The kids, like sweater-buyers, are the ultimate beneficiaries. That relationship is less interesting (because it is too many clicks away) than a direct relationship to the protagonist. This scenario is the same reason audiences like hearing personal stories more than “a friend’s cousin’s roommate’s girlfriend had this funny thing happen” stories.

Real relationships are diverse.
This approach to relationships also helps keeps stories diverse. If every story coming out of an organization centers around the the ultimate beneficiary, then every story will sound the same. But if you think about the close relationships the protagonists have, those stories will change each time. You’ll sound fresh instead of sounding like the usual (ahem) bleating hearts.

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